Selected Speeches Of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I
U.C.A.A. SIXTH GRADUATION
This graduation ceremony is an occasion, not merely for recapitulating and recounting the fruits of past efforts in terms of examination results and of degrees and diplomas awarded, but also for fixing one’s sights upon future accomplishments, obligations and possibilities.
For the sixth time in the history of this College, We see an imposing group of young men and women graduate from this institution. Most of you, as in previous years, will continue your studies and prepare yourselves for higher degrees and varying careers. But whether pursuing further studies or going directly into the world, all of you will soon be embarking upon a new stage of your lives.
We, therefore, deem it necessary and appropriate, on this occasion when you of this year’s graduating class look back upon your student years with a measure of nostalgia and look forward, perhaps with a measure of understandable apprehension towards your future careers, to speak to you about leaders and leadership.
As you know, leadership is required in all fields and no field is without its usefulness. During Our visits, however, to the educational institutions of Our country, We have noticed, in answer to Our enquiries, that the percentage of students pursuing courses of study useful for the development of technology and industry, has been extremely low. We have, therefore, counselled you to take up technological and industrial courses in preparing for an over-all programme. The reason for Our introducing this topic at present is that We have found the number of those receiving degrees in technological subjects today to be very small indeed, and wish to impress upon you all that it is Our desire to see a much larger number of Our young people benefiting from the resources We have on Our own and have received as aid from abroad, and graduating in the fields of technology and industrial education.
The Need for Leadership
We all know that the need for good leadership in every walk of life is much greater today than ever before. Every aspect of living demands guiding hands: business, the professions, the fine arts, the mechanical arts, all. And all of you young people, who have been given the enriching opportunity of an advanced education will in the future be called upon to shoulder in varying degrees the responsibilities to leading and serving the nation.
It is important, however, to remember that leadership does not mean domination. The world is always well supplied with people who wish to rule and dominate others. The true leader is of a different sort: he seeks effective activity which has a truly beneficient purpose. He inspires others to follow in his wake, and holding aloft the torch of wisdom, leads the way for society to realize its genuinely great aspirations.
You have learnt from your study of history that the story of nations is often told in terms of the accomplishments of individuals. In every significant event in history, you will find a courageous and determined leader, an inspiring goal or objective, and an adversary who sought to foil his efforts.
In any normal society, every one has some opportunity to show himself as a leader. Even the mechanic or clerk who has an assistant assigned to him not to speak of the doctor with all his helpers, or the officer who commands his troops, is a leader. Within his own sphere, each has the same opportunities for showing ability, and the same potential satisfactions as has the leader of a government. The leader is marked out by his individual craftsmanship, his sensibility and insight, his initiative and energy.
The Sense of Responsibility
Leaders are people who raise the standards by which they judge themselves — and by which they are willing to be judged. The goal chosen, the objective selected, the requirements imposed, are not merely for their followers alone. They develop with consummate energy and devotion their own skill and knowledge in order to reach the standards they themselves have set. This whole-hearted acceptance of the demands imposed by ever higher standards is the basis of all human progress. A love of high quality, we must remember, is essential in a leader.
Dependability is another requirement in a leader. To be dependable is to be willing to accept responsibility, and to carry it out faithfully. A leader will always be willing to take counsel from his people, but will often have to act on what his own mind tells him is right. This demands that the leader has trained himself out of any inordinate fear of making mistakes.
To embark successfully on a career involving leadership demands a courageous and determined spirit. Once a person has decided upon his life work, and is assured that in doing the work for which he is best endowed and equipped, he is filling a vital need, what he then needs is faith and integrity, coupled with a courageous spirit, so that, no longer preferring himself to the fulfilment of his task, he may address himself to the problems he must solve in order to be effective. One mark of the great leader is that he feels sufficiently secure to devote his thought and attention to the well-being of his subordinates and the prefection of his task, rather than being constantly worried about the approval or disapproval of others.
He who would be a leader must pay the price in self- discipline and moral restraint. This entails the correction and improvement of personal character, the checking of passions and desires, and an exemplary control of one’s bodily needs and drives.
Leaders have to submit themselves to a stricter self- discipline and develop a more exemplary moral character than is expected of others. To be first in place, one must be first in merit as well. It should not surprise Us then, to find that the greater number of acknowledged leaders have been people who trained themselves in the art of discipline and obedience. He who has not learned to render prompt and willing service to others will find it difficult to win and keep the goodwill and co-operation of his subordinates.
A Leader Must Stay Ahead
Further, a leader must possess initiative, which is the creative ability to think in new ways and do new things. The leader has always to stay ahead. He cannot afford to set up a procedure, and then fold his hands and linger lazily watching it work. He cannot be content merely to see new trends and take advantage of them. He must keep his imagination vividly alive, so as to originate ideas and start trends.
A word of warning is in order here. To help one’s subordinates or dependents at the cost of harm to the public, is tantamount to sacrilege and blasphemy. It is unfortunate, that many in positions of leadership, both great and small, have been found guilty of such practices.
A good leader is devoted to his work and will willingly forego even the demands of sleep to see its accomplishment. This does not mean that he is impetuous. On the other hand, he maintains a balance between emotional drive and sound thinking.
His labours, which sometimes appear excessive, derive from his firm realization that unless a man undertakes more than he can possibly do he will never be able to do all he can do. It is his enthusiasm that stimulates his energy.
No matter what our point of departure in speaking of leadership, we reach the inescapable conclusion that the art of leadership consists in the ability to make people want to work for you, when they are really under no obligation to do so.
The true leader is one who realizes by faith that he is an instrument in the hands of God, and dedicates himself to be a guide and inspirer of the nobler sentiments and aspirations of the people. He will kindle interest, teach, aid, correct and inspire. Those whom he leads will co-operate with him in maintaining discipline for the good of the group. He will instruct his followers in the goals towards which to strive, and create in them a sense of mutual effort for attaining the goal.
To sum up, there is no power on earth, in this University or elsewhere, that can take a clerk from his desk or a mechanic from his bench, and easily mould him into a leader. To develop oneself, one has to develop one’s own initiative and perseverance — a man has to strive in order to grow.
As educated people, you will be looked up to, and much will be expected of you. You will be regarded, and rightly so, as those who have the necessary knowledge and the ability to inspire, to guide and to lead. It is for this reason that we expect from you to whom we have given the opportunity of education in your chosen fields, great and productive service to Our country.
These fundamental ideas of which We have briefly spoken this day, constitute, We presume, part of the thought you have absorbed during the course of your studies in this University College. May these basic thoughts accompany you during the years ahead and aid you in accomplishing great things for Our beloved country, Ethiopia.
In conclusion, We would like to express Our thanks and appreciation to the members of the faculty and the Board of this University College for their zealous and untiring efforts for the growth of knowledge and the development of character in the young people who learn here.
We would like especially to entrust Our Vice-Minister of Education, on the basis of the statement made by him regarding the expansion and growth of education in the country, with the high responsibility of assiduously and untiringly striving to carry out the schemes mentioned and the decisions made by the Board.
July 17, 1959.
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November 9, 2016